Categories
Dessert

I highly rec’almond’ delicious shortbread bars

Almond shortbread bars don’t skimp on the almond flavor, with lots of almond extract and some sliced almonds on top.

Several months ago, I wrote that my New Year’s resolution was to get my pantry cleaned out and organized over the course of the year.

I must have somehow jinxed myself, because now that we’re staying at home and trying to avoid going to the store as much as possible, that resolution has become not just a dream, but a necessity.

Normally, Joey and I get groceries about once a week, but I’m prone to stopping in several times throughout to grab this or that as I come up with new ideas for recipes.

This week, though, we decided we should have a plan, execute it, and then avoid going back for as long as possible, so we planned out meals we could stretch, mostly soups, and made a detailed list, organized by aisle so we could quickly get in and out.

That being said, while we now have some staples and several containers of chicken noodle soup and ham and beans in the freezer, my pantry still has some special items for me to play with, so I got to searching through my recipes to see what I could share this week.

The one I landed on required zero trips to the store for me, and while I doubt most of you can follow suit, trust me when I say you should save this one for when you can get out and about again.

The recipe I tried comes from the blog “The View From Great Island.” You can find the original post at https://theviewfromgreatisland.com/almond-shortbread-bars-recipe/. I used store-bought almond paste for my version as well as doubled the almond extract. If you want to make almond paste from scratch, I highly recommend visiting this blog.

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Almond Shortbread Bars

Almond shortbread bars don't skimp on the almond flavor, with lots of almond extract and some sliced almonds on top.
Course Dessert
Keyword almond, bars, shortbread

Ingredients

Bar Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter room temperature
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup almond paste
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons almond extract
  • 2 cups flour

Glaze Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup cream or milk I used skim
  • 2 1/2 to 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons almond extract
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and prepare a 9-by-13-inch pan by greasing and flouring it.
  • For the bars, cream the butter and sugar together for several minutes until fluffy. Beat in the egg, almond paste and almond extract until the mixture is smooth.
  • Beat in the flour until everything is just combined and spread the dough into your pan. (I found it easier to just dump the dough into the pan and spread it around with my hands, but the recipe’s author suggests an offset spatula. Either way, it’s a little tough to spread.)
  • Bake for 25 to 30 minutes until the bars are set and the edges are golden brown.
  • Let the bars cool for about 10 minutes before putting on the glaze.
  • For the glaze, add the butter and cream/milk to a saucepan and heat over medium until the butter is melted. Whisk in the sugar and extract. Add more sugar if the glaze is too thin or more milk if it’s too thick.
  • Stir in the almonds and pour the glaze over the bars, spreading it out evenly. Let the bars cool completely before slicing, and store leftovers in an airtight container.

Luckily, since we’re still able to work in the office (our desks were already more than six feet apart, so it’s been pretty easy), I had folks to pawn my treats off on, and they happily helped me polish them off.

If you like almonds, you’ll love these. They’re so flavorful and the perfect texture for shortbread, which I think can sometimes get a bit dry.

Moving forward, I’m sure I’ll find some more treasures in my pantry, and hopefully, I’ll still be able to sneak my treats to others. If I’m certain of one thing in these uncertain times, it’s that I definitely don’t want to be quarantined alone with my baking, or I’m going to have a lot of exercising to do once this is all over.

This piece first appeared in print on March 26, 2020.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas and sponsored by Main Street Co. & Kitchen Corner in Newton, Kan. Visit their website at shopmainstco.com.

Categories
Breakfast Dessert

Coffee cake comes highly rec’almond’ed

Almond coffee cake is pretty to look at and delicious to eat.

I only have a few rules for choosing recipes I want to try.

First, it has to be decently easy and not need a bunch of weird kitchen implements. Second, the ingredients need to be something I can find locally and not have to order online. Third, I have to want to eat it.

I feel like that third one goes without saying, but I thought I’d mention it anyway.

This week’s recipe just barely met my criteria, because I had no idea almond paste even existed until I examined the ingredients list. I was able to find it in my local grocery store, so I’m hoping the rest of you can, too. If not, there are also other recipes online to make it yourself.

It also nearly upset my rules because the part of the recipe where you’re supposed to “spread” the batter is not an easy task. This stuff is thick and tough to spread, so I recommend dolloping the batter and filling into the pan before spreading it so you have an easier time.

The recipe’s author said she used her fingers to spread it, but I had more luck with a rubber scraper instead.

I found this recipe on the blog “Curly Girl Kitchen.” You can find the original at https://www.curlygirlkitchen.com/2013/01/almond-cream-cheese-coffee-cake.html. I doubled the almond extract and cinnamon.

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Almond Cream Cheese Coffee Cake

Almond coffee cake is pretty to look at and delicious to eat.
Course Breakfast, Dessert
Keyword almond, almond paste, coffeecake, cream cheese

Ingredients

Streusel Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons cold butter
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds

Filling Ingredients

  • 8 ounces almond paste
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 4 ounces cream cheese room temperature
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds

Batter Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 teaspoons almond extract
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • Prepare a 9-inch springform pan by coating it with cooking spray.
  • For the streusel, combine the flour, sugar and salt in a bowl, add the cold butter and use a pastry cutter or fork to work it in until it’s nice and crumbly and stir in the almonds. Put in the refrigerator for now.
  • For the filling, beat the almond paste, sugar and cream cheese until it’s smooth and set it aside (you’ll add the almonds later).
  • For the batter, beat the butter and sugar for about three minutes to get it light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs and vanilla and almond extract until it’s well combined.
  • Beat in the sour cream.
  • Once the mixture is smooth, beat in the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon until everything is just combined.
  • Put half of the batter into your prepared springform pan and spread it to an even layer (it’s a thick batter, so this is easier said than done).
  • Spoon the cream cheese filling in dollops all over the batter layer and spread it out as best as you can. Sprinkle the 1/4 cup of sliced almonds on top of the filling.
  • Spoon the remaining batter in dollops on top of the almonds and spread it again.
  • Bake the cake for 15 minutes.
  • Remove it from the oven and top it with the streusel and then bake for another 40 to 50 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean (don’t stick it all the way down to the filling layer, since that will stay gooey even after baking).
  • Let the cake cool for about 20 minutes before removing it from the pan. Let it cool completely and then store in an airtight container if not serving right away. (I kept mine in the fridge.)

While this recipe was a bit more complicated than I often choose, it was totally worth it. The cake was beautiful, and it would be great for breakfast or dessert.

And although it stretched rules one and two, definitely fit rule three, since I managed to eat more than one slice of this cake before it was gone. I guess one out of three ain’t bad.

This piece first appeared in print on May 23, 2019.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas and sponsored by Main Street Co. & Kitchen Corner in Newton, Kan. Visit their website at shopmainstco.com.